Swindle: Who inspired you?

Published 9:23 pm Monday, October 16, 2017

I would think that most people can pick out the one person they admire or inspires them the most in their profession, job or other life’s work. My choice has always been easy; Supreme Court of the United States Associate Justice Clarence Thomas.

Justice Thomas was born on June 23, 1948, in Pin Point, Georgia. Pin Point is located in a coastal region in the southeastern part of our state. His father disappeared early on in his life. Thomas was very close to his grandfather. He considered himself to be “his grandfather’s son.”

In 1968, he went to Holy Cross College, in Massachusetts, where he studied English. After college, he went to Yale University Law School. After law school, Justice Thomas worked as an assistant to Missouri Attorney General John Danforth.  Danforth, later to become a U.S. Senator, would mentor Thomas throughout Thomas’ career.

After several years working as a lawyer in the private sector, he moved to Washington D.C. where he eventually received several appointments from President Ronald Reagan. After serving our country at the EEOC, President George H.W. Bush nominated him to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals where he was easily confirmed by the Senate.

In 1991, President H.W. Bush nominated Thomas to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. While initially reluctant to accept this nomination, Justice Thomas’ sense of duty to our nation led him to honor the request of the president. Justice Thomas was confirmed by the Senate by a 52-48 vote.

Justice Thomas has proven that he supports the idea of a very limited federal government in his opinions and speeches. He is a textualist, meaning that he looks to the plain text of a law and interprets it based on what the words say; as opposed to what he would like the words to say.  He has always resisted the tendency to create social policy; which is the function of Congress.

He is also the most quiet and humble of the nine justices. He rarely asks questions during oral arguments. Many of his critics say that his lack of questioning lawyers during oral arguments shows that he is somehow unintelligent.

However, he believes that listening is more important than excessive questioning; a lesson that all of us, especially me, could benefit from.

Who do you admire that blazed trails, mentored you in your work, or provides an example for all to admire?

Jason W. Swindle Sr. is a Senior Partner and Criminal Defense Attorney at Swindle Law Group in Carrollton.